Jan. 10, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa's head wrestling coach knew it was big. A representative from Oklahoma State said he'd never seen anything like it. But if there were 15,400 people packed inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch the Hawkeyes host the Cowboys on Saturday, Tony Ramos couldn't hear them.
The third largest dual crowd in NCAA history erupted with a sound rivaling a Kinnick Stadium flyover when the horn blew on Ramos' 133-pound match. He had just upset previously unbeaten and top-ranked Jordan Oliver, but the noise was so deafening, Ramos said he couldn't hear a thing.
"I heard it was pretty loud," Ramos said Saturday night. "I don't remember. There were a lot of things running through my head. I was excited. I knew my family was excited. It was big for me to get that win in front of them. They do a lot for me and come out here a lot to help this school."
"It was as electric as I can remember since Brands' wrestling days." (Dan) Gable mentioned on the broadcast that the event should've been televised World Wide. There is no better wrestling in America. People often ask me for my favorite memories, and I tell them, what I remember best are the capacity crowds. Not any particular match, but the capacity crowds. I know I'm at my best when the place is packed."
Tim Johnson, IPTV play-by-play announcer
His family isn't alone. Hawkeye fans have invaded Iowa City in record numbers since 1975, when a then-record 12,200 fans packed the UI Field House to watch Iowa and Iowa State battle to a 19-19 draw. The Hawkeyes have seen the record fall 27 times since then. But not since Dec. 9, 2008, when an NCAA record 15,955 saw top-rated Iowa defeat No. 2 Iowa State, 20-15, has the home crowd been larger than it was Saturday.
"This crowd gets loud, and they know their wrestling," said Iowa head coach Tom Brands following the Hawkeyes' 17-16 loss to the No. 2 Cowboys. "I think the entertainment factor was probably ok, but you don't get your money's worth unless you come out of here with a (dominating) performance and win."
Certainly Hawkeye fans were disappointed to see Oklahoma State end Iowa's 84-dual unbeaten streak, but even the end result couldn't stop people from getting excited. And in Iowa City it won't stop them from coming back.
"It was as electric as I can remember since Brands' wrestling days," said Tim Johnson, who's been broadcasting wrestling events for 26 years and called the match with Dan Gable on IPTV. "Gable mentioned on the broadcast that the event should've been televised World Wide.
"There is no better wrestling in America. People often ask me for my favorite memories, and I tell them, what I remember best are the capacity crowds. Not any particular match, but the capacity crowds. I know I'm at my best when the place is packed."
Iowa has led the nation in attendance in each of Brands' five seasons as head coach. The year prior to his arrival, 2005-06, the Hawkeyes averaged just over 3,500 fans. But that number nearly doubled in his first season, and attendance averages continued to rise in each of the next four years, peaking at an NCAA record 8,209 in 2009-10.
"Iowa's still got it," said Johnson. "I'm a big fan of John Smith and Oklahoma State wrestling, but they had to look around (Saturday) and think 'Iowa's still got it.' It was one of the more electric moments I can remember."
Saturday's crowd pushed Iowa's season attendance average over 9,900. Fans have three more opportunities to catch the Hawkeyes at home before championship season opens in February. Northwestern visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena this Sunday at 1 p.m. Minnesota, currently ranked third in the NWCA/USA Today's Coaches Poll, visits Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m., and the Hawkeyes close their home schedule hosting Wisconsin on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 1 p.m.
Tickets to the Northwestern and Wisconsin duals are $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for kids five and under. Tickets to the Minnesota dual are $13 for adults, $7 for children and $2 for kids five and under. To purchase tickets contact the UI Ticket Office at 800-IA-HAWKS.